East Vancouver tenants set to appeal evictions at B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch
Two tenants from an East Vancouver apartment building are set to go before the Residential Tenancy Branch this week to dispute eviction notices.
At a news conference outside Wallace Wilson House on East 6th Ave today (November 5), organizers from the Vancouver Renters' Union said the tenants have been disputing increases to their rents for the last year.
“These tenants are on their last legs,” Kim Hearty told reporters. “They’ve been fighting to keep their homes because they have nowhere else to go, and it’s up to the RTB this Wednesday to decide if they can keep off the streets.”
Steve Rakic, a 68-year-old retired machinist and millwright, told reporters his rent went up by $185 a month, to $845, in January after a subsidy he had been receiving for the last four years ended.
The dispute has already gone before the Residential Tenancy Branch once, and to the B.C. Supreme Court, which upheld the RTB’s decision that the non-profit housing society, the Housing Foundation of B.C., is exempt from provincial rent increase provisions.
Hearty said Rakic was a few days late in submitting his application to renew the annual subsidy because he needed help with filling out the form in English.
“On that basis, they denied him the subsidy," Hearty said of the delay. "Four months later...they upped his rent $185."
“And he tried to pay it—in January, he paid $845, which is about 60 percent of his income. And the next month he just couldn't afford to, so he resumed paying…the same rate he’d been paying for the past four years, and it’s on that basis that they’re evicting him.”
Rakic, who receives a monthly pension of about $1,400, said he’s been asked to retroactively pay $1,600 in rent for this year.
“I don’t have [any] money,” he said in an interview. “My income is $1,400 a month, and they want me to pay $845? That’s impossible—that’s not acceptable.”
Barbara Bacon, the executive director of the Housing Foundation of B.C., said all tenants are advised to submit their applications by a certain deadline to continue receiving the annual subsidy.
“We have a certain amount of money we can use for subsidy every year, and we ask people to apply, and there are deadlines that must be met to keep it a fair process,” she told the Straight by phone.
“And if people don’t make the deadlines, or if they refuse to give us information, then obviously we can’t process applications.”
Some tenants also raised concerns at today's news conference about conditions in the building, which is located just off Commercial Drive. Rakic said he has complained about repairs needed in his apartment.
“My door doesn't close, my taps are rattling…and holes inside the hallway, and they didn’t fix it,” he charged.
Bacon disputed the claims that repairs have not been done.
“I am totally satisfied with the fact that we keep our buildings in way better shape than the six that I bought from the market in the last few years,” she said.
"I cannot believe that something hasn't been attended to."
The foundation owns and manages 24 buildings across Vancouver, most of which are for tenants over the age of 50. Nine of the buildings are government-subsidized, while 16 are subsidized by the housing foundation.
Rakic and his neighbour Karim Samji are scheduled to go before the B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch in Burnaby on Wednesday (November 7).